Nicola's Reviews > The Transition Handbook: From oil dependency to local resilience

The Transition Handbook by Rob Hopkins
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May 30, 08

bookshelves: non-fiction, environment, recommended
Read in March, 2008

"So, to what extent is Transition Towns like John Lennon's 'Imagine'?" This is the question that was posed by a Mexican reporter to Rob Hopkins, founder of the Transition movement. That the 'Transition Town' of Totnes, Devon was even of interest to a Mexican reporter is a testament to how far-reaching and inspiring the concept is. Hopkins may have struggled to deftly answer the John Lennon question, but he writes with clarity and passion on the issues surrounding the Transition movement in this book.

The Transition Handbook provides both an overview of "the twin crises of peak oil and climate change" and practical advice for transition to a "lower-energy, more localised future". As well as providing the standard information about peak oil, the book also includes some charming twists. A psychologist explains our "addiction" to oil-fuelled, consumptive lifestyle, which uses the same instruction for overcoming the addiction that recovering drug addicts use. There is also a chapter that flashes forward to a hypothetical 2030 that shows how much things could potentially change if we join the Transition movement.

Hopkins cites resilience as the key part of a plan for the future. He comments: "We have become completely reliant on the utterly unreliable, and we have no Plan B." Instead of conventional environmentalism, Hopkins advocates thinking and acting locally: reinvigorating a sense of community; local growing and composting; and re-skilling, where we learn the basic skills our grandparents took for granted. He suggests we should design for an economic renaissance, albeit a local one.

It's hard not to be won over by the real sense of enthusiasm that Hopkins has for the Transition movement. Although packed with information, the book is a quick read. It is informative, funny and undeniably inspiring.

(Note: I read and reviewed this book for work. I still think it's a good read, though. The John Lennon thing makes me laugh every time I think about it.)
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